Articles

Atlantic Provinces – Changes to Employment Standards – Leave from Work

March 23, 2018

Since 2016, the federal government has been enacting changes to compassionate care and parental benefits. These changes allow workers to access employment insurance benefits for longer periods of time while taking time off work to deal with newborn babies and/or seriously ill family members.

Recently, Atlantic provincial governments have begun making corresponding changes to provincial employment standards that would provide for longer periods of job protection to employees taking leave from work to deal with critically ill children or adults. Provinces are also providing job protection for employees dealing specifically with issues related to domestic / intimate partner violence. Furthermore, provinces have been updating legislative definitions to ensure that modern day families and relationships qualify under these leave provisions.

For each Atlantic Province, these leaves from work will be unpaid.

Objective:

As provincial governments are responding to the federal changes by amending provincial Labour Standards Codes related to compassionate care, parental and domestic/intimate partner violence leave, RCC will continue to advocate for provinces to work together and take a harmonized approach to this change.

Current Status:

RCC participated in consultations regarding these changes in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.

Regrettably, the only concerted effort to harmonize leave from work provisions among the Atlantic Provinces was with compassionate care leave.

Compassionate Care Leave:
Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Newfoundland and Labrador have amended their Labour Standards Codes to move Compassionate Care Leave from eight weeks to twenty-eight weeks and to allow it to be taken over the course of one year. Despite the difference in the number of weeks allowed for leave (Federal = 26, NS, NB, & Nfld = 28), this proposal would actually be harmonized with the federal changes to the Employment Insurance Act. In Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Newfoundland and Labrador a two-week waiting period is required before accessing benefits. PEI’s leave provision remains at eight weeks.

Recent Legislative Change:
In early 2018, New Brunswick and Newfoundland and Labrador made the following legislative changes:

New Brunswick:

  • Increased the time in advance of when a maternity leave may begin from 11 to 13 weeks before the date of the expected delivery.
  • Increased the allowable length of parental leave without pay following the birth or adoption from 37 to 62 consecutive weeks.
  • Increased the time window for parental leave from 52 to 78 weeks following the birth or adoption of a child.
  • Amended provisions of “critically ill child leave” to be consistent with the definition of ‘family member’ in the Employment Insurance regulations.
  • Introduced “critically ill adult leave” of up to 16 weeks.
  • Introduced “domestic violence leave, intimate partner violence leave or sexual violence leave” and provisions for such leave.

Further information regarding leaves from work in New Brunswick can be found at the following link:
http://www2.gnb.ca/content/gnb/en/departments/post-secondary_education_training_and_labour/People/content/EmploymentStandards.html

Note: These most recent legislative changes to leave from work have not yet been incorporated into the government website and thus, some of the information in the link is not up to date.

Newfoundland and Labrador:

  • Increased parental leave from 35 to 61 weeks.
  • Expanded eligibility to care for a critically ill child and / or a critically ill adult to include immediate and extended family members.
  • Introduced job protection of 37 weeks for caregivers who provide care to a critically ill child family member; and 17 weeks to provide care for a critically ill adult family member.
  • Allow nurse practitioners to sign medical certificates for existing and new leaves.

Further information regarding leaves from work in Newfoundland and Labrador can be found at the following link:
http://www.aesl.gov.nl.ca/publications/labour/labour_relations_work.pdf

Note: These most recent legislative changes to leave from work have not yet been incorporated into the government website and thus, some of the information in the link is not up to date.

Initiatives in other Atlantic Provinces:

Nova Scotia:

  • In 2017, consulted stakeholders on leave involving domestic violence, intimate partner violence, sexual violence and provisions for such leave. Legislation is expected to be introduced in 2018.

Further information regarding leaves from work in Nova Scotia can be found at the following link:
https://novascotia.ca/lae/employmentrights/leaves.asp

Prince Edward Island:

Further information regarding leaves from work in Prince Edward Island can be found at the following link:
https://www.princeedwardisland.ca/en/topic/employee-leave-options

What RCC Did / Next Steps:

RCC will continue to work with Atlantic governments to impress upon them the importance of harmonization between provinces regarding leaves from work.

If you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact: Jim Cormier, Director, (Atlantic) at: jcormier@retailcouncil.org or 902-422-4144

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